October 17th, 2016
My favorite picture from my recent trip to Rome is a photo I took of the Pope and the Archbishop of Canterbury as they processed right by me on the way to the altar of the church where they were to make their historic declaration. (See last post.) In the picture, the Archbishop has just begun to clap his hands, as applause breaks out in the congregation as a whole.
Applause in church? Very rare, I know–but this pope is a religious rock star. When he’s around, people get inspired and the rules are bent. (Photos in church? I disapprove in principle–but everyone around me was snapping away, so I joined in.)
October 12th, 2016
I’m just back from an extraordinary visit to Rome.
My wife and I were in Italy to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Anglican Centre in Rome–an ecumenical outpost representing the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Anglican Communion in relations with the Roman Catholic Church. There was to be a grand dinner at the art gallery in a private Roman palazzo, with the Archbishop of Canterbury in attendance.
As it turned out, we were also witnesses to what may prove to be an historic encounter between the leaders of the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion. At a stately private service of vespers, each gave a forward-looking, hopeful homily to inspire their respective churches to work together for evangelism and service to the poor. They exchanged personal gifts: the Archbishop received a replica of the staff or crozier given to the first Archbishop of Canterbury, while he he gave the pope his own, very simple pectoral cross.
The service concluded with the commissioning of 19 pairs of Anglican/Roman Catholic bishops or archbishops from all over the world. Their duty now is to carry out ecumenical work in their respective countries.
All in all, it was an impressive demonstration that the Holy Spirit is breathing new life into the ecumenical movement. —J. Douglas Ousley
September 20th, 2016
Sunday night, one of our parishioners was having dinner about 110 feet from the bombing on 23rd Street–in a restaurant on 24th Street. He not only didn’t hear the blast, but he went on to enjoy a leisurely meal and only learned of the bomb when he left the restaurant! Even then, he said most of the surrounding streets seemed to be displaying business as usual.
The church refers to the many Sundays between the Feast of Pentecost in the spring and the beginning of the Season of Advent in late November or early December as “Ordinary Time.” The lessons and prayers set for these Sundays are generic, nothing particular to the season, “ordinary.”
So the city is wracked by bombs and life goes on. Terror has become ordinary. God help us.–J. Douglas Ousley
September 13th, 2016
Preaching last Sunday, I realized that many of the people who were in church weren’t in NYC 15 years ago on September 11. Given that they didn’t experience the attacks of that day at first hand, they were remarkably attentive. 9/11 continues to unite us as a people and a nation.
Our well-attended service was, I believe, an appropriately solemn and devout observance. I mentioned political and military action as well as the need to seek peace, and I received no protests that the sermon was biased.
God who was our help in ages past remains our hope in the uncertain years to come. —J. Douglas Ousley